More than 900,000 deaths every year in the US could be prevented by transplantation, if organ supply constraints were removed. This staggering number of preventable deaths is even larger if you look at the population of the globe.
Not only could these 900,000 lives be saved, but the 26,000 people who undergo transplants in the US would benefit with the time for: better matching, potential organ rehabilitation and augmentation, and potential new treatments like immune tolerance induction to reduce rejection.
The National Cancer Institute identified tissue preservation as perhaps the number one roadblock in cancer genomics and numerous other areas.
But preservation doesn’t affect just cancer.
Every day a massive amount of human tissue is discarded because it cannot be used in a timely way. Yet simultaneously it is routine for researchers to plan entire studies around the limited availability of quality tissue samples. This tissue shortage constrains experimental design which threatens data quality, adds waste and adds cost to research.
Tissue preservation also bottlenecks bioengineering, according to over a dozen US federal science agencies. Without a shelf-life, bioengineered tissues have constrained uses; with a shelf life, on-demand uses, inventories, worldwide distribution become possible.
The shortage of human tissues, caused by the inability to preserve them, severely constrains drug discovery. It adds cost. It adds time. And it adds error. New molecules must be tested in animal models and then tested in humans, instead of using human tissue model and primary cells from the beginning. And no doubt there are molecules that fail in animal models but would be successful in humans.
Every moment counts in trauma care. With on-demand skin, blood vessels, bone marrow, fascia available a whole new host of better treatment options exist for the countless people affected by acute traumas every year.
Preservation would also offer far better outcomes for the 185,000 new amputees each year, about half of whom could undergo limb reattachment had there been better limb preservation.
The ability to preserve tissue and organs also offers the opportunity to drastically reduce loss of life from terrorist attacks and major public health emergencies, with stockpiles of on-demand donor and bioengineered skin, blood vessels, and bone marrow at the ready
The ability to bank ovaries and testes would be revolutionary for cancer care, and those who wish to delay childbearing. While childhood and young adult cancer have survival rates over 90%, patients often are left with lifelong hormonal and reproductive complications, as result of damage to these organs. The ability to remove and then re-implant these organs post-treatment offers the opportunity change this. This removal, preservation, and re-implantation would also offer the freedom to postpone childbearing for men and women alike.